Turkey Offers to Mediate US-Iran Talks

November 14, 2008

Turkey’s prime minister said his country is
ready to mediate between Iran and the incoming U.S. administration of
Barack Obama. In an interview in Wednesday’s New York Times, Recep
Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara could be “very useful” in nurturing ties
between Tehran and Washington, strained over Iran’s disputed nuclear

He said Iranian President Mahmoud Amadinejad’s overture of congratulations to Mr. Obama is “a step that has to be made use of.”

Mr. Erdogan told the Times that the president-elect — who has said
he would consider breaking with long-standing U.S. policy and sit down
with Iranian leaders — offers a chance for America to reclaim “an
image that’s been lost.”

Turkey has already been roiled by the war in Iraq on its border, and
the specter of conflict in neighboring Iran. Mr. Erdogan told the Times
“wars are never the solution in this age.”

As a secular Islamic
nation, member of both the U.N. Security Council and NATO, Turkey,
standing at the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East, has recently
tried to raise its regional profile.

Mr. Erdogan told the Times that Turkey’s principle in foreign policy is not to earn enemies.

In the wake of the Georgian-Russian conflict in August, Ankara
sought to head up a group to resolve conflicts in the Caucasus. The
government has also been mediating talks between arch foes Syria and
Israel and re-establishing ties with Armenia.

Turkey’s foreign minister, Ali Babacan, today said he expects
developments soon in the long-running dispute with Armenia, as well as
the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The minister said he will visit Azerbaijan in the coming days. He
said his Armenian counterpart, Eduard Nalbandian, may also visit Turkey
as part of “diplomatic traffic” in the Caucasus.

Turkey sided with Azerbaijan in its dispute with Armenia over the largely Armenian-inhabited region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The foreign ministers of the three countries met in September on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Source: Persian Journal

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